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How respectful is "prayer language"?


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9 hours ago, Vanguard said:

I commented on this a few posts ago. Are you advocating literally any standard in public prayer? Or should there be some modicum of formality in public forums? If you got up at the pulpit and started by saying "Thanks Big G for the blessings" or some such, you bet I would judge you. ; )

Rubba dub dub, thanks for the grub!

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9 hours ago, Vanguard said:

I commented on this a few posts ago. Are you advocating literally any standard in public prayer? Or should there be some modicum of formality in public forums? If you got up at the pulpit and started by saying "Thanks Big G for the blessings" or some such, you bet I would judge you. ; )

I don’t know. Maybe we’re missing the boat here. 

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Luke's proud papa said of his son, "He preached to 20 million people in one week – I haven't reached that in 20 years – and I am very happy about that." https://www.theblaze.com/news/5-year-old-preacher-boy-luke-tillman

 

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3 hours ago, Pyreaux said:

would one who thinks language is unimportant explain whether God can always understand you, when even you don't know what it is you are saying?

Humans use sophisticated grunts (in comparison with other life forms) and body positions to communicate with each other in Earth's atmosphere. Believing that God pays attention to the actual utterances is, to my mind, entertaining. He knows our hearts. We use grunts for the benefit of other humans present, and we teach that we imbue them with special significance when we lace them with grunts from several hundred years ago — like an incantation.

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This topic always reminds me of the parable of the turkey:

 

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A young couple, happily married, is celebrating their first Thanksgiving together. The bride wants to cook her husband her family's classic turkey recipe, and asks her mother for the recipe.

Her mother sends her the recipe, and the woman cooks it to perfection. Even the breast-meat is perfectly tender and juicy. However, at the end, her husband remarks: "Darling, where are the legs? I always liked those best."

"There on the side," she tells him.

He picks around the bird, and he seems still confused, so she points them out to him. He asks, "but love, why are they shaped like this? They don't look like drumsticks to me. They're all... squashed-y?"

She says, "It's in the recipe. You take the legs off, take the bones out, and cook the meat on the side."

He still doesn't understand, but the turkey was very tasty, so he leaves it be.

The next day, the woman calls up her mother and asks, "So mom, about that turkey recipe. Why do we take the bones out and cook the meat on the side?"

Her mother replies, "Hm, I don't actually know why. Your grandmother just always did it that way, and it's her recipe."

The mother and grandmother are having a pleasant brunch one morning, and the question of the turkey comes up once more.

"Oh, right," says the mother. "Ma, I gave my daughter your turkey recipe, and she asked about the turkey legs."

"What about them?" asked the grandmother.

"Well, why do we cut them off, take the bones out, and cook the meat on the side?"

The grandmother bursts into gales of laughter. "I did that when you were a kid because my pan was too small to fit the whole turkey!"

 

 

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39 minutes ago, The Great Pretender said:

Good bread, good meat, good Lord, let's eat.

“Lord, we cleared this land. We plowed it, sowed it, and harvested it. We cooked the harvest. It wouldn’t be here, we wouldn’t be eatin’ it if we hadn’t done it all ourselves. We worked dog-bone hard for every crumb and morsel, but we thank you just the same anyway, Lord, for the food we’re about to eat. Amen.” Jimmy Stewart 

 

Edited by Bernard Gui
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On 1/29/2023 at 9:16 AM, The Great Pretender said:

30 years ago, Elder Oaks reminded us of the importance of "prayer language" when addressing deity (https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/1993/04/the-language-of-prayer). From my earliest years as an eager-to-please Primary child, I proved to be adept at conjugating verbs into 17th-century English. That's funny, right? I felt confident that my prayers were all the more sincere as a result, and I was convinced they were well-received by deity on account of my skills.

My children, however, flat-out refused to comply. I was infuriated because I was fully invested in what Elder Oaks taught, which was reiterated by an article in ldsliving.com as recently as 2016 (https://www.ldsliving.com/why-do-we-pray-using-thee-and-thou/s/75897).

So here's the thing.

I have reached a comfortable conclusion that biological evolution is part of the great Plan (billions of years of it and still counting), and please note that this belief is not heretical (https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/new-era/2016/10/to-the-point/what-does-the-church-believe-about-evolution?lang=eng, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/history/topics/organic-evolution?lang=eng). 

Evolution leads me to conclude that human language has zero connection to God but is merely a set of highly developed animal grunts. As such, an archaic form of it from several hundred years ago is neither more nor less respectful; it is simply a bunch of noises that convey meaning to others of our species in Earth's atmosphere. Retaining selected grunts from several hundred years ago (though limited to second-person singular and associated verbs but no nouns or other vocabulary from the era) to use with deity is simply a barrier to the uninitiated and something for everyday folks to laughably butcher in an attempt to aspire to greater sincerity, respect, or whatever.

As a consequence, I now suspect that "prayer language" is little more than the Emperor's New Clothes. Considered in the cold light of day, it may constitute a ritual like counting rosary beads or crossing oneself, yet I, for one, have been conditioned for decades to judge others by their fluency.

I don't have examples to offer, but I believe our scriptures are full of botched attempts to portray authenticity through bungled, outdated language, and I'm left thinking, "Isn't it time to move on and accept that God has no more interest in 17th-century English than he does 21st-century street slang?"

In automatic mode, I still pray "correctly" in meetings using "thee, thou, and thine" with their associated verb conjugations, but in personal prayer, I ditch the embroidery.

What thinkest thou?

That is simply 19th century KJV language which was somewhat common then. But it has absolutely nothing to do with prayer or respect. They are just a language mode. Otherwise the implication would be that only those that pray in English are doing it right. The "thee" and "thou" do not exist in Spanish and Portuguese and no equivalents are used in those languages  today, which I happen to speak. 

 

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26 minutes ago, Islander said:

That is simply 19th century KJV language 

17th century, even. And I agree with everything you say. To me, it is beginning to represent anything but sincerity, authenticity, and piety. It has begun to feel entirely anachronistic and ostentatious. However, I can relate to the opposing voices because I too was in their shoes for decades — shoes I feel would be better consigned to the history books.

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Huh.  Just realized that using "thee" and "thou" is an application:

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A gospel doctrine is a truth—a truth of salvation revealed by a loving Heavenly Father. Gospel doctrines are eternal, do not change, and pertain to the eternal progression and exaltation of Heavenly Father’s sons and daughters. Doctrines such as the nature of the Godhead, the plan of happiness, and the Atonement of Jesus Christ are foundational, fundamental, and comprehensive. The core doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ are relatively few in number.

...

A gospel principle is a doctrinally based guideline for the righteous exercise of moral agency. Principles are subsets or components of broader gospel truths. Principles provide direction. Correct principles always are based upon and arise from doctrines, do not change, and answer the question of “what?” Many principles can grow out of and be associated with a single doctrine . . . A principle is not a behavior or a specific action. Rather, principles provide basic guidelines for behavior and action.

...

Applications are the actual behaviors, action steps, practices, or procedures by which gospel doctrines and principles are enacted in our lives. Whereas doctrines and principles do not change, applications appropriately can vary according to needs and circumstances. Applications answer the question of “how.” Many applications can grow out of and be associated with a single principle. (p. 156)

Meridian Magazines article on Elder Bednar's Increase in Learning

So you might look at it like this:

Doctrines: Nature of God 

Principle: We should respect him

Applications:  use thee and thou, pay attention as we pray, watch how we talk to him, kneel, fold our arms, be sincere etc

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13 minutes ago, The Great Pretender said:

17th century, even. And I agree with everything you say. To me, it is beginning to represent anything but sincerity, authenticity, and piety. It has begun to feel entirely anachronistic and ostentatious. However, I can relate to the opposing voices because I too was in their shoes for decades — shoes I feel would be better consigned to the history books.

As I understand it (and I'm happy to be corrected) it would be 16th century because the King James Version was done using the Tyndale version.

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5 hours ago, Bernard Gui said:

“Lord, we cleared this land. We plowed it, sowed it, and harvested it. We cooked the harvest. It wouldn’t be here, we wouldn’t be eatin’ it if we hadn’t done it all ourselves. We worked dog-bone hard for every crumb and morsel, but we thank you just the same anyway, Lord, for the food we’re about to eat. Amen.” Jimmy Stewart 

 

That's the Lord for you. All he does is provide a planet and then expects us to do all the work.

It's just not fair!

🙄

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On 1/29/2023 at 2:40 PM, 3DOP said:

1) God can use rituals to help our imaginations to more readily envision the realities of his invisible presence. I suppose your misgivings would be about bad rituals, such as those practised by Catholics. Leaving that aside, I would hesitate to equate what you have thought to be "prayer language" with rituals of any sort.

2) It is more for the worshipper than for God, that we are encouraged to express ourselves in language that is special, perceived as elevated, and even perhaps, mysterious, especially in public worship. No one should think that God is displeased with any sincere prayers addressed to Him. I find it helpful to me to have access to "prayer language". It would be a mistake though, to teach anyone, especially a child that God is somehow more pleased with prayers spoken in archaic language.

As a Catholic with an appreciation for the use of a dead language in many of our community religious rituals, I would not like anyone to think that was because I believe that God is against modern languages. Sincere prayer, with a deep appreciation for God's presence, does not come easy. Use of even a slightly different tongue than we use all of the rest of the time seems appropriate and helpful to many, whenever they wish to raise their thoughts above the everyday world. I suggest that it is because of a recognition of the frailty of our human condition that "prayer language" has developed in your religion as well as mine.

3DOP

 

 

Excellent summary of the usefulness of prayer language…and other actions we take to create sacred space or time. 

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1 hour ago, Rain said:

As I understand it (and I'm happy to be corrected) it would be 16th century because the King James Version was done using the Tyndale version.

Yes. By the 17th century, English had already largely lost the distinction in the 2nd person between singular and plural pronouns, with the plural becoming dominant.

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4 hours ago, Islander said:

That is simply 19th century KJV language which was somewhat common then. But it has absolutely nothing to do with prayer or respect. They are just a language mode. Otherwise the implication would be that only those that pray in English are doing it right. The "thee" and "thou" do not exist in Spanish and Portuguese and no equivalents are used in those languages  today, which I happen to speak. 

I’m not sure you are correct about Spanish and Portuguese. 

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On 1/29/2023 at 1:40 PM, 3DOP said:

1) God can use rituals to help our imaginations to more readily envision the realities of his invisible presence. I suppose your misgivings would be about bad rituals, such as those practised by Catholics. Leaving that aside, I would hesitate to equate what you have thought to be "prayer language" with rituals of any sort.

2) It is more for the worshipper than for God, that we are encouraged to express ourselves in language that is special, perceived as elevated, and even perhaps, mysterious, especially in public worship. No one should think that God is displeased with any sincere prayers addressed to Him. I find it helpful to me to have access to "prayer language". It would be a mistake though, to teach anyone, especially a child that God is somehow more pleased with prayers spoken in archaic language.

As a Catholic with an appreciation for the use of a dead language in many of our community religious rituals, I would not like anyone to think that was because I believe that God is against modern languages. Sincere prayer, with a deep appreciation for God's presence, does not come easy. Use of even a slightly different tongue than we use all of the rest of the time seems appropriate and helpful to many, whenever they wish to raise their thoughts above the everyday world. I suggest that it is because of a recognition of the frailty of our human condition that "prayer language" has developed in your religion as well as mine.

3DOP

 

 

In our temples we use symbolic ritual prayer language, as  liturgy, not unlike a Latin mass.

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4 hours ago, The Great Pretender said:

17th century, even. And I agree with everything you say. To me, it is beginning to represent anything but sincerity, authenticity, and piety. It has begun to feel entirely anachronistic and ostentatious. However, I can relate to the opposing voices because I too was in their shoes for decades — shoes I feel would be better consigned to the history books.

I've transitioned from believing everything I'm told in church, and I tell ya, for the longest time I didn't pray. I was done with the former way I would pray and feeling like I wasn't getting answers. Now I feel more peace and I feel better just speaking to Him as a comforter, friend? I remember in my younger married life feeling guilt if I didn't do like I was taught in church RS or GD class or as a youth to kneel and use thee, thou, thy. My prayers seemed to be so repetitious day in day out. Now when I get a feeling I speak to him in my mind or aloud but not in a prescribed orderly fashion. And it's brought me much closer. 

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1 hour ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

He's not.

Unless they changed the language in the last 10 years.

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9 minutes ago, Bernard Gui said:

Unless they changed the language in the last 10 years.

They haven't. I was speaking Spanish to a sister at church just two Sundays ago, and I watched a YouTube video in (European) Portuguese during my lunch today.

Interestingly, as I noted in the other thread, the 'language of prayer' in Portuguese requires the use of the second-person singular pronoun tu. In Brazil, this pronoun has almost entirely been replaced with the plural você -- an exact analogy of what happened in English with the singular pronoun thou. In Portugal, however, tu remains in common use, and the plural você is avoided. This means that when a person prays in Portugal, s/he uses familiar pronouns, but when a person prays in Brazil, s/he uses archaic pronouns. The language of prayer nonetheless remains the same.

Edited by Hamba Tuhan
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5 minutes ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

They haven't. I was speaking Spanish to a sister at church just two Sundays ago, and I watched a YouTube video in Portuguese during my lunch today.

Maybe he means archaic forms rather than familiar “you”.

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11 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

In our temples we use symbolic ritual prayer language, as  liturgy, not unlike a Latin mass.

I thought it likely. 

Many Catholics certainly, and some LDS seem to misunderstand why some of us in both religions see value in this. I would say that it is about making it easier to find our way to God. I KNOW that neither of our religions are trying to make God more obscure to the faithful. But they instinctually know that God's children need to stretch, to reach higher, than a religion like I criticised here, JC the Naz, that might not. 

----

Only immanence? I know you take a hard definition of God as transcendent. By that definition, we are aliens to a transcendent God. But...it seems to me to be revealed that transcendence and immanence are united in the Incarnation. It is fair for you to point out the illogicality of my claim. But my faith says it. I know it is fantastic, in the sense of being logically incredible to some. I believe it.

In a way, our discussions on this have given me a greater appreciation of my faith. It is far beyond the dreams of philosophy. I believe the Son of Almighty God, came down to us, to show that God can and does bridge this gulf, and that it is even His will that we may call The Son's Father, Our Father. These are truly fantastical claims

I am happy to believe in what seems impossible to man in his wisdom. I think God is both. He is with us, immanent. He is infinitely above us, transcendent. As a Catholic, I claim everything, however impossibly mysterious it may seem. This is what I think God has revealed, and I believe it without fully understanding. Forgive the interruption and there is no need to comment...back to the topic (although I think prayer language can be more understandable in a context of the greatness of God, and I am not hinting that yours is inadequate for that.) 

----   

I know I am apparently contradicting myself. I commend easiness, and criticise easiness. Long ago, my dear littlest brother, when we were boys, now an avowed agnostic, came up with a saying that seemed stupid, "the harder, the easier". He might have stumbled into some wisdom I am thinking.

I am no expert in this at all, but I am imagining that is easier to be one with God, if it is a little difficult, an exercise, than if it is easy. My apologies if this was more polemical when you might have expected a simple, "Hey Mark, yeah, you rock." 

Anyway...believe in my love and best regards.

Rory

Edited by 3DOP
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I remember being taught about using "respectful" language when praying. Then I served my mission in Peru. Spanish speaking members are taught to use the informal/familiar "tu" instead of the formal "usted." Why the difference? Perhaps Spanish speaking members are closer to God so he allows them to be less formal.

 

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3 hours ago, 3DOP said:

All Immanence? I know you take a hard definition of God as transcendent. By definition, we are aliens to a transcendent God. But...it seems to me that transcendence and immanence are united in the Incarnation. It is fair for you to point out the illogicality of my claim. But my faith says it. I believe it. I have to hold that God can and does bridge this gulf. 

No, in fact, since I do not believe that the savior's death's sacrifice "paid a bill" generated by human sin, -God is not a bill collector- I believe that a major portion of the sacrifice represented at mass is in fact Jesus' willingness to give up transcendence  and become immanent voluntarily to take on the fullness of what immanence brings with it, and know every single pain and loss of grace that any human could ever know and feel, so that that individual could know in the filthy depths of "immanence" and sin, that one greater than him had been there before, and that that poor soul had company in the deepest grief a human soul could experience.

So the crucifixion is the ultimate loss of transcendence and the very cross itself represents that "crossover" into the full incarnation of the worst of human experience, but thereby also raising those who can overcome the world- who have also been there at the bottom- to transcendence themselves. The Word himself - the creator-was made flesh and dwelt among us to sacrifice that transcendence for our sakes, so that we could know, in the deepest depths of human suffering that Someone infinitely greater than ourselves, had already been there for us.  There is no before or after for God, who lives in an eternal present; the depth of the sacrifice had "already happened" before the creation itself.  

So God's organization of existing materials - instead of ex nihilo- to create worlds,  itself is a representation of that "time" where Jehovah himself surrendered transcendence - his own personal exaltation- for us, to become again flesh.  The cross is THAT cross, in an eternal present.

THAT'S what I think .  So I think we kinda agree. :)

 

 

Edited by mfbukowski
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